The present study demonstrates the possibility of fabricating zirconia parts with a complex shape and internal architecture using a low-cost stereolithography-based technique. One of the critical steps in ceramics stereolithography is the preparation of a photo-curable slurry with properties that fulfill specific requirements, such as having a low viscosity, high solids loading and appropriate curing characteristics. Slurries with different acrylic monomers and ceramic fillers were studied concerning their rheological and curing behavior. New formulations based on mono- and tri-functional acrylic monomers revealed the following excellent rheological properties: The viscosity of the mono-/tri-acrylate-based slurry with 75 wt.% of zirconia was 1.6 Pa·s at 30 s-1. Zirconia stabilized with 3 mol.% yttria was found to be more favorable than zirconia with 8 mol.% yttria for slurry preparation, because of its lower surface area and higher tapped density. It was shown that the cure depth of the suspensions was suitable for printing objects with a 50 µm layer thickness, good interlayers connection and surface finishing.
Keywords: additive manufacturing; ceramic; digital light processing; stereolithography; zirconia.